With the new year comes new resolutions.
As in, resolving to eat out less. Or, resolving to run outside more. At the very least: resolving to stop eating every Cheeto one’s kids leave behind.
But when you review restaurants regularly, and the weather is iffy (see: January in Texas) and there’s such a thing as Baked Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, well, it’s a good thing there’s a new, “healthy” restaurant just around the proverbial corner.
Beik Mediterranean Grill, whose tagline is “Eat healthy, live healthy,” goes where Brix and Inzo Italian Kitchen, its predecessors in location and partly in owner, didn’t. Beik offers the Middle East’s greatest culinary hits, yet adds to its previous legacy of fine, thin-crust pizzas. (A Roanoke location of Inzo remains open.)
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A recent Sunday afternoon had us parked in front of the pizza oven, trying owner Toni Khalek’s new menu, which offers a wide-ranging mix of kebabs and shawarma, falafel, baba ghannouj and kibbeh. Khalek, who is Lebanese, bought Inzo in 2014 and decided to switch cuisines because the neighborhood has its fair share of Italian places but few Mediterranean spots.
It’s a good bet that will pay off for the savvy restaurateur, who exudes charm and made sure to stop by our booth more than a few times during lunch, and even dropped off a gratis slice of pizza when our daughter’s grilled chicken was late arriving to the table.
The fried cauliflower ($6.99) appetizer, however, got things off to a great start. Crispy florets and sauteed slivers of onion, speared and dipped into a cup of tahini dressing, were addictive, tangy and garlicky.
I love a good fattoush salad ($6.49), which is traditionally seasoned with za’atar, the garam masala of Middle Eastern cooking, if you will. A mix of thyme, oregano and basil, it can be potent, but this salad’s mellow ingredients — radishes, cucumbers, green peppers and romaine — tempered the effect. A healthy glug of olive oil and a touch of vinegar, plus crunchy pita chips, made it a worthwhile rendition.
The Ara’yes sandwich ($6.99) is an unusual menu item. Grilled pita bread, cut into triangles, is filled with a ground kafta patty. To the under-nuanced eye (or to someone who, perhaps, left her glasses at home), it looked like a quesadilla. But its taste was pure Lebanese, with the rich meat and bread hardly needing any help from a condiment. Shoestring fries, nicely salted, were a good foil.
Entrees come with a choice of one of the following: tabbouleh, a salad (Lebanese, fattoush, mixed green or Caesar), hummus or baba ghannouj. The last of those, an eggplant dip, was outstanding — creamy with hints of garlic and lemon. The tabbouleh — terrific — was studded with onions and tomatoes, and had large pieces of Italian parsley, which provided great texture, as well as chopped mint.
We also quite enjoyed the gyro plate ($11.99) and the chicken shawarma ($13.99), more-than-generous servings of shaved beef and lamb and tender chicken. Yellow rice and chewy pita were worthy carb counters.
By the time we were winding down lunch, a large private party seemed to overtake the small open-plan restaurant, which is full of comfortable booth-table hybrids, but we didn’t care.
Beik is family friendly (meaning our kids like it!). There’s a weekday lunch buffet ($10.95) and happy hour specials.
All of which are reasons to resolve to eat here more often.
Beik Mediterranean Grill
2747 S. Hulen St.
Hours: 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m–10 p.m. Friday and Saturday